• Spain's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Ada Colau: Fighting on the home front

Alex Dunham · 27 Feb 2013, 09:05

Published: 26 Feb 2013 15:32 GMT+01:00
Updated: 27 Feb 2013 09:05 GMT+01:00

So who is Ada Colau?

She’s a 38-year-old civil rights activist from Barcelona who recently called both Spain’s stringent mortgage law, and a renowned banker who praised it, "criminal". She then added, "I would've preferred to have thrown a shoe at him, but chose not to as I had some important things to say today in parliament".

Tell me more about her.
 
Ada has been the public face of the PAH (Platform for those Affected by Mortgages) for the past four years. This social lobby group has stopped around 600 evictions and continues to denounce an evictions regime it claims has caused the suicides of many people.
 
The platform gained momentum and a higher profile from the 15M and Democracia real YA! (Real Democracy NOW!) movements of 2012, which saw hundreds of thousands of Spaniards, if not millions, take to the street in protest against the pitiful state of the economy.
 
But Ada still remained a relatively unknown face in Spain until just recently.
 
So what’s changed?
 
On January 29th her condemnation of the banking community in parliament made her the new voice of the average José on the street. Hundreds of thousands have already watched her eloquent but passionate demolition of the evictions regime on YouTube, and her Twitter following has quadrupled in less than three weeks to more than 36,000.
 
 
Is there anything else she’s famous for?
 
No, there’s more. Ada and the PAH managed to gather 1.4 million signatures for an initiative calling on parliament to amend Spain’s intransigent mortgage law, which not only empowered courts to evict defaulting debtors but also to embargo their assets and future earnings.
 
Colau and her colleagues went to parliament on February 12th to call for legal changes to allow outstanding mortgage debt to be liquidated on surrender of the property.
 
But the PP was having none of it and chose to vote against the initiative on the grounds that it had its own proposals that would make the petition obsolete.
 
That was until Basque MP Uxue Barkos informed the house that a couple in Mallorca had just committed suicide after finding out they were to be evicted.
 
Colau and other PAH activists heckled PP speakers and chanted "¡Sí, se puede!" (Yes, we can!) and "bastards", until they were expelled from the public gallery. The PP speaker in congress Jesus Posadas was then caught on microphone calling out to the ushers: "Fuck, have them thrown out!"
 
 
Story continues below…
But during a corruption scandal involving handouts made to many top officials and with the overall reputation of the party in tatters, PP deputies could not really avoid giving Ada Colau a national stage on which to talk about Spain’s housing crisis.
 
What's next for her then?
 
Ada has been hailed by many Spaniards as a modern day heroine who is standing up to a lacklustre government with no sympathy for those being forced out of their homes.
 
There have already been calls for her to enter parliament, but she says “it’s the assembly that will decide my future”.
 
In the meantime, Colau appears adamant about continuing the fight against evictions.

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Valentine's Day
Ten golden rules for snagging a Spanish man
Sally Fazakerley on navigating the perilous path to true love

Ten golden rules for snagging a Spanish man
1 hour ago

Looking for your very own Don Juan? Then this is what you need to know.

Ex Spanish minister testifies in televised graft inquiry
Esperanza Aguirre appears in the televised inquiry. Photo: Screen Grab

Ex Spanish minister testifies in televised graft inquiry
1 hour ago

"As far as I know, there is no illegal financing at the PP in Madrid," Esperanza Aguirre said.

Two Spanish teenagers face jail time over cheating in exam
Stock photo of taking an exam. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Two Spanish teenagers face jail time over cheating in exam
17 hours ago

Two students are facing a harsh penalty for cheating on an entrance exam.

Balearic Islands break with tradition with ban on bullfights
A bullfight in Bilbao. Photo: Ander Gillenea/AFP.

Balearic Islands break with tradition with ban on bullfights
18 hours ago

The fight to eliminate one of Spain's most famous and long-held traditions wages on.

Spanish civil servant takes six years off work. No-one notices
Photo: Vmiramontes/Flickr

Spanish civil servant takes six years off work. No-one notices
19 hours ago

A civil servant continued to draw his salary for six years until he was rumbled.

Meet the Spanish team that helped prove Einstein's theory
Photo: Group for Relativity and Gravitation, University of the Balearic Islands.

Meet the Spanish team that helped prove Einstein's theory
22 hours ago

Gravitational waves do exist. The Local talks to a Spanish scientist who helped prove Einstein's theory.

Gallery
Are these Spain's most romantic couples ever?
Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP

Are these Spain's most romantic couples ever?
23 hours ago

As Valentine's Day approaches, The Local takes a look at some of the most romantic Spanish love stories throughout history.

The Local list
Nine reasons why Cervantes is better than Shakespeare
The Bard versus Cervantes. Photo: Creative commons / Wikimedia

Nine reasons why Cervantes is better than Shakespeare
23 hours ago

In the battle for greatness, could Cervantes beat Shakespeare?

Police raid conservative party HQ in yet another graft probe
Popular Party headquarters in Madrid Photo: AFP

Police raid conservative party HQ in yet another graft probe
1 day ago

Yet another corruption scandal has broken bringing yet more strife for the party of Mariano Rajoy.

Spain busts gang trafficking rare falcons for racing in UAE
Photo: Guardia Civil / Ministerio Interior

Spain busts gang trafficking rare falcons for racing in UAE
1 day ago

The ring smuggled protected birds of prey out of Spain for falcon racing in the Arab states.

Sponsored Article
US taxes and FATCA: 'The time for hiding is over'
National
Seven of the best cheesy chat up lines in Spanish
Sponsored Article
Back to Boho chic: Win your new season wardrobe
Health
One dead and dozens ill after falling foul of dodgy tortilla
National
Hapless man has FOUR steel rings cut off penis by firemen
National
Top ten most romantic nicknames to woo your Spanish sweetheart
Shocking: Migrant hides inside car bumper to cross into Spain
Lifestyle
Six things the USA could learn from Spain
National
Ten of Spain's most romantic getaways for Valentine's Day
Culture
Wacky and whimsical: Spain goes carnival crazy
National
Danger: Early toxic caterpillar plague sweeps across Spain
National
Like father like son: Napkin proves matador paternity suit
National
UK rallies expats in Spain ahead of referendum on Brexit
National
Secret to long life? Spaniard lived to 107 on 'red wine diet'
National
Ten Spanish corruption scandals that will take your breath away
National
Watch: Gravity-defying stunts at Spain's Wind Tunnel Games
National
10 English words you'd never guess were really Spanish
National
Madrid to rename Francoist streets after terrorism victims
National
Olé? Bullfighter takes five-month-old baby into the ring
National
Watch: Moment south Spain struck by 6.3 magnitude quake
Travel
9 charming Spanish towns to visit before the tourists come
National
Heartbroken parents publish suicide note from bullied son
National
Spain launches new reality TV show: 'I want to be a nun'
National
Eleven very good reasons to be happy you live in Spain
National
Loyal dog waits two months at hospital door for dead owner
2,913
jobs available